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Practise Self-compassion: Powerful Way to Overcome Divorce Trauma

Self compassion is self-love

Going through separation or divorce can be emotionally exhausting. During these difficult times, the practice of self-compassion becomes our tool and lifeline for healing and resilience. Mamas like us often effortlessly extend kindness and empathy to others yet struggle to offer the same to ourselves. But what if we treated ourselves with the same compassion we reserve for our loved ones? Let’s explore how embracing self-compassion can improve both your mental well-being and your children’s adaptation to new circumstances.

What is Self-Compassion?

Self-compassion involves treating ourselves with kindness, understanding, and acceptance, especially in times of struggle or failure. It’s about acknowledging our humanity and recognising that we deserve love and compassion just as much as anyone else. There are three components of self-compassion: self-kindness, common humanity, and mindfulness.

  • Self-Kindness

Being kind to oneself involves being warm and understanding toward oneself rather than bringing out your inner critic and being harshly self-doubting. It means recognising that imperfection is a shared human experience and embracing oneself with tenderness and care. Single mothers often take this for granted, not knowing that this is essential to a happier family life.

  • Common Humanity

This factor acknowledges that suffering and struggles are common human experiences. It reminds us that we are not alone in our challenges and that it’s natural to encounter difficulties along life’s journey. You can seek support from the Single Mum community to help understand this. They will tell you stories and experiences of hardships that you can relate to.

  • Mindfulness

Mindfulness is about being present in the moment without judgment. It involves observing our thoughts and emotions with openness and curiosity. Mindfulness can help us gain a deeper understanding of ourselves and our experiences.

The importance of being self-compassionate

When we are compassionate with ourselves, we cultivate a deeper sense of self-worth and inner strength. We learn to be more forgiving of our mistakes and flaws and to embrace ourselves with open arms, knowing that we are worthy of love and care. Self-compassion also helps us navigate the ups and downs of life, such as separation or divorce, with more grace and resilience. Practising self-compassion during difficult times will prevent us from blaming ourselves, having senseless ruminations, and eventually affecting our children’s emotional well-being. 

Benefits of Practising Self-Compassion

The benefits of embracing self-compassion go far beyond moments of comfort, especially for us Mamas. Here are some ways in which it can improve our lives:

Improved self-esteem and Self-Confidence

By practising self-compassion, you are building a sturdy foundation for yourself and your children. Treating yourself with kindness projects a positive self-image to your kids, helping them realise they are also worthy, capable, and deserving of love and respect.

Better Coping Mechanisms for Dealing with Stress and Adversity

Self-compassion equips us with the necessary tools to respond to the inevitable challenges associated with single parenthood, particularly trauma from separation or divorce. Instead of resorting to self-doubt or despair when faced with obstacles, it helps us respond with resilience and adaptability. Divorce negatively impacts kids. So, by being compassionate, you become the steady anchor for your children, who depend on you.

By modelling self-compassion, you are teaching your kids invaluable lessons in resilience, empathy, and self-care. They learn that it’s okay to experience difficult emotions and that practising kindness towards oneself is an essential part of healing and growth.

Increased resilience and psychological well-being

Practising self-compassion fosters increased resilience and psychological well-being. When faced with life’s challenges, a self-compassionate Mama bounces back stronger. Setbacks and failures no longer knock you down. Rather, you use them as stepping stones for growth and learning.

During a business trip, I had the pleasure of meeting Julia, a single mother who once struggled with self-compassion. She shared how this lack of self-compassion affected her daughter during her growing years. Determined to make a positive change, Julia started with small steps, such as refraining from criticising herself for everyday mishaps, like not being able to cook dinner due to work deadlines. Instead, she began doing positive self-talk and reminded herself that these imperfections didn’t define her worth as a mother. What mattered most was providing for her child and ensuring her well-being. It did not take long for Julia to fall back in love with herself.

Self-compassion is self-love

How to cultivate self-compassion (cont.)

Techniques for practising self-compassion after separation or divorce

Acknowledge your pain 

It’s essential to acknowledge the depth of your experience. Separation or divorce brings forth a lot of emotions – grief, anger, confusion, and guilt. It may be difficult, but being kind and understanding towards yourself is important. Recognise that it’s okay to feel the way you do without judgment or self-doubt. This does not mean brushing aside your pain but holding space for it with gentleness and care. Allow yourself to mourn the loss of the relationship and the dreams you once held. Validate your emotions and permit yourself to grieve at your own pace. Do the same with your children. Tell them that healing has its ups and downs, and that’s perfectly normal. 

It is at this stage that you will need a comforting support person, a non-judgemental listening ear. Single Mama Way services can be accessed from anywhere you are at the time you need support most. Even if you are not sure where to start, the initial strategy session is geared to help you figure that out.

Setting boundaries and saying no when needed

As a single mum, it’s easy to put your needs last on the list. However, setting boundaries and saying no when needed is crucial for your well-being. If you’re not taking care of yourself, you won’t be able to care for your children fully. I remember a time when I felt guilty for wanting an evening alone to recharge. But when I started prioritising my own needs, I found I had more energy and patience to be there for my kids when they needed me most.

Avoiding self-criticism and seeking support from others

Being a single mother doesn’t mean you have to do it all alone. Don’t hesitate to reach out to trusted friends, family members, or mental health professionals for support and guidance. Whether it’s someone to talk to when you’re feeling overwhelmed or practical help with childcare, having a support network can make all the difference. I’ll never forget the time when I was struggling with a difficult decision about my child’s education. Talking it through with a close friend helped me gain clarity and confidence in my choice.

Practising self-care and mindful self-compassion exercises like guided meditation or journaling

Self-compassion helps nurture your well-being, whether you’re a single mum or not. You can do it through meditation, journaling, or simply taking a few moments to yourself each day. These practices can deepen your capacity for self-love and acceptance. One of my favourite self-care practices is journaling. It allows me to process my thoughts and emotions, celebrate my successes (no matter how small), and acknowledge my challenges without self-judgement. Taking this time for myself plays a huge role in maintaining my mental and emotional resilience every day.

Recognising and challenging self-critical thoughts and beliefs

It is common for Mamas to criticise themselves, especially when facing challenges or setbacks such as separation or divorce. However, learning to recognise these negative thoughts and beliefs is the first step toward cultivating self-compassion. Start by paying attention to the inner dialogue that arises during difficult moments. Are you being overly harsh or judgmental toward yourself? Once you’ve identified these self-doubting thoughts, challenge them with compassion and understanding. Remind yourself that making mistakes is a natural part of life, and it doesn’t diminish your worth as a parent or as a person. 

I remember a time when I missed my child’s school event due to work commitments. Initially, I berated myself for not being there. But then I realised that I was doing the best I could with the resources available to me. By challenging my self-critical thoughts with kindness, I was able to let go of the guilt and focus on being present for my child in other ways.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is self-compassion, and why is it important?

Self-compassion is the practice of treating yourself with the same kindness and care that you would treat a good friend in times of struggle or failure. It involves recognising your own humanity, being compassionate towards yourself, and acknowledging that it is okay to make mistakes. Self-compassion is important for promoting emotional well-being and reducing self-doubt and self-judgment.

2. How can I practise self-compassion in my daily life?

You can practise self-compassion by fostering kindness and understanding towards yourself, using positive self-talk, and acknowledging the common humanity of experience. Engaging in mindfulness and meditation can also help you develop self-compassion over time.

Summary: How to Practise Self-Compassion

In a world that often demands perfection and relentless self-criticism, especially for single mothers, self-compassion is a gentle reminder to be kinder to ourselves. Through the power of self-compassion, we improve our well-being and spread the effects of self-kindness and compassion to our children.

So, next time you find yourself facing a challenging situation or feeling overwhelmed with self-criticism, remember to extend the same compassion to yourself that you would to a dear friend. Treat yourself with kindness, be gentle with your words and actions, and embrace your own imperfections with love and understanding. Make self-care a priority by engaging in simple activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul.

Remember that it is okay to make mistakes. Even if things go wrong, know that you can get through it because you have your kids, friends, family, and the Single Mum community to support you. Always know that you are not alone, and you are one strong Mama. Here’s to being kinder and taking care of ourselves more.

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